Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: The First Five Rock Bands I Loved

I'm continuing my summertime trip down memory lane (or through my massive iTunes artist list) reflecting on the music that shaped me during various points of my life. But before we get to that, I want to announce winners from my Tuesday Tunes contest two week ago when I told you about two bands that I've recently fallen totally in love with: Farewell Continental and Wilson.

I have one CD of each to give away and the winner of the Farewell Continental CD is Back2The Beat and the winner of the Wilson CD is Katherine, both from blogger. I will be emailing you both for your addresses, but if I am too slow (and I sometimes am), feel free to email me at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com.

Speaking of contests, you have one more day to enter for a signed copy of Stacey Jay's new book DEAD ON THE DELTA, which I got say is one of my mostly hotly anticipated books of the year and I can't wait to read it. Check out her Women Who Rock Wednesday interview and you will see why! That is also where you enter the contest!

Okay, last week on Tuesday Tunes, I admitted that my first musical love was Madonna. I was mostly a pop/top 40s girl in 4th and 5th grade. (I remember listening to and recording songs off of Casey Kasem's Top 40 on B96 and also loving the DJs Eddy and JoBo, who my mother had a lot more objections to than Madonna.) Though I had genuine love for Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Janet Jackson, my listening to Top 40 radio was mainly an attempt to fit in at my grade school. I admittedly bought and enjoyed Vanilla Ice, Milli Vanilli and C&C Music Factory tapes, but around 5th grade, I started listening to more rock. There were three major influences for this.

One, I spent a lot of time at the library and in addition to checking out books to read by the pool that was two blocks from my house and I visited on a daily basis every summer, I also started checking out tapes to listen to. Perhaps because of my Casey Kasem habit, I grew fascinated with the old Billboard hits from the 50s and 60s. My library had those albums of greatest hits of each year and my absolute favorite was 1963, which had both of these songs on it:

Though my all-time favorite early 60s song was actually from the 1964 Billboard CD:

This led me to change my preferred radio station from 96.3 (B96, Chicago's pop station) to 104.3 which was Chicago's oldies station. You can imagine the relief of my parents as they found the pop channel headache inducing... though of course their relief was short-lived as within a couple years I would discover my preference for punk and metal.

But this brings us to my second rock influence, which was my parents, and the first rock band I fell in love with. My love for early 50s and 60s music quickly led me to The Beatles, the first band I was ever obsessed with. My parents had many of their albums on vinyl and my favorite has always been Abbey Road followed closely by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band... though I didn't get all the drug references until a good four or five years later.

I definitely had a hippie/greaser phase (oh, I was so in love with the movie/play/soundtrack for Grease) in 6th and 7th grade. This picture of me at 12 pretty much embodies it:

Aside from the Beatles, I didn't pick up much other music from my parents, though. They were into the more folk side of the 60s. I couldn't get into Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell like my mom and I wasn't even all that keen on her favorite band, Fleetwood Mac, led by Stevie Nicks, the woman I was named for. (I find it quite interesting that while my early pop loves both from the 80s and the 60s were women, when I started getting into rock, I mainly listened to men until I discovered punk/alternative.) My dad's favorite was Bob Dylan, which as I've mentioned before, try as I might, I still cannot get past his nasally whine even today. However given my fascination with hippie culture, I did steal my dad's Woodstock soundtrack cassette tapes and after listening to his mind-blowing performance, I also stole Dad's Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced?" album, which is probably the thing that led me from my love of The Beatles and lighter 50s and 60s pop/rock into more guitar-driven classic rock and metal.

But the second band that I fell in love with was one I discovered via another parent--my best friend Angela's mom who is a bit younger than my parents and grew up on 70s rock as opposed to 60s rock. This is the band that I've probably caught the most shit for liking (besides Hole, maybe), but I don't care. I'm still a proud fan of RUSH! I definitely like their earliest stuff best because it has the most memories for me. Caress of Steel is my favorite album and I fondly remember the way Angela and I teased my dad with the song, "I Think I'm Going Bald." But my all-time favorite song is "Lakeside Park," and say what you will about Rush, in my mind that song belongs on the soundtrack for BALLADS OF SUBURBIA just as much as any of the punk songs that influenced it. "Lakeside Park" sums up what I was looking for as a teenager. Between that and my early perception that high school and junior high should have been like Degrassi, clearly I should have grown up in Canada.

The third and possibly the biggest influence on my musical tastes may seem strange to anyone younger than me: MTV. I first discovered it in 1989, the summer between fourth and fifth grade, back when it still played music videos. My family didn't have cable, but I met a girl who'd just moved 2 blocks down from me whose brother played on the same little league team as my brother. She lived right across the street from the park where they played and when it got hot or we got bored of watching them, we retreated to her house and watched MTV. It was an overload of awesomeness. At first I was excited about Madonna and Janet Jackson's latest videos, but then I started discovering a wider variety of music. I begged and begged and begged my parents to get cable and it took a year but they finally relented. Then I was creeping into our den at night to watch Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes. There were so many bands to discover, but the three that meant the most to me at first were these:

Depeche Mode, which felt like a natural transition from my pop phase paved the way for The Cure and the goth phase in my late teens:

R.E.M., which opened me up to the world of indie/alternative rock and also provided me with one of my earliest crushes. I was so in love with the skater boy in this video. And our family dog looked like his dog:

And then there was Faith No More. They were especially huge for me becoming an outlet for my anger when I was being bullied and opening the door to heavier punk and metal bands. And yeah, I also had a huge crush on Mike Patton in this video:

So there they are, the five rock bands that shaped me and sent me looking for other music. Soon after this I would discover Nirvana, my all time favorite band, but I've talked about them at length before, so I'll probably skip ahead down nostalgia lane next week and cover the different phases besides punk and grunge that I went through.

What were some of your earliest rock 'n' roll loves and who or what exposed you to them?


marina said...

I just wanted to say two things that are not related to my rock and roll loves but actually yours.
1. "Rush is a very complex band!" -SLC Punk. Little Stevo.
2. When I was a baby and we still lived in Pennsylvania, my hometown actually didn't have MTV. My mom says it was like living in a Footloose town. Haha.

Ashley said...

NO WAY!!! Another oldies lover!! I LOVE Leader of the Pack and Leslie Gore!! And, the My Boyfriends Back song?! SO MUCH LOVE! :D This makes me insanely happy! I'm going to be singing Leslie Gore all day now! :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Bean- Love that quote. Need to rewatch that movie. Also that is crazy about living in a Footloose town that banned MTV. Wow!

Ashley, yay for the oldies! especially the girl groups! Glad to get a good song stuck in your head.